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Contrary to popular belief, the battle for civil rights did not end in the 1960s. This Sunday, you can be a part of it.

At [the National Equality March on Oct. 11](, thousands, including students from over 100 universities across the country, will take up the mantle of America’s greatest tradition by gathering in Washington to demand full civil equality under the law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. GU Pride and numerous allied organizations will be among them.

Organized by Equality Across America, a national network of activists dedicated to gay rights advocacy, the National Equality March is a grassroots movement of individuals of all races, classes, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities who are determined to bring the pervasive injustices the LGBTQ community still faces to the forefront of our national dialogue.

There has not been a march of this kind since 2000. Unlike the participants in some previous marches, LGBTQ citizens and their allies are not assembling in protest of a specific piece of legislation, but rather to demand equality in all issues, including marriage, federal benefits, the right to openly serve in the military and legal protection from discrimination.

We are not asking anyone for special rights – merely the equal protection of our rights guaranteed to every U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment, protection currently denied to gays and lesbians. Consider the fact that convicted child molesters can marry in all 50 states but gay marriage is legal in only six, and you’ll understand why we are outraged.

Even in states where civil unions are legal, we pay $41,196 to $467,562 more than heterosexual couples, due to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex couples and denies them accompanying Social Security, health care and disability benefits. In the 19 states where same-sex unions are constitutionally banned, we’re further bereft of tax and employment benefits, adoption eligibility, jail and hospital visitation rights, and control over medical and funeral decisions once a partner becomes incapacitated. Unless laws are changed, if my future partner were dying, hospital staff could bar me from the room in her last moments. Such incidents smack of discrimination, and yet they remain legal in our country.

But at the National Equality March, we will be marching for more than marriage. We are ordinary Americans who fear for our jobs, not because of the recession, but because we can be fired at any time because of our sexual orientation – perceived or actual – in 29 states, and because of our gender expression in 37 states, with no civil laws to protect us. We are proud patriots who want to serve our country in Afghanistan and Iraq, but always fear the risk of being discharged because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. We want no more tragedies like the murders of Matthew Shepard and Larry King, and so we demand protection from discrimination and harassment in our school systems, because every child has a right to an education free from fear.

ost of all, we are your friends, family, neighbors and classmates of all orientations and gender identities who believe that the great dream of equality may become reality through perseverance. We are not content to remain second-class citizens, or allow others to be classified as such, under a federal government that is supposed to embody the separation between church and state, but instead allows social conservatives and tax-exempt churches to campaign to repeal rights upon the basis of morality. We have not forgotten the promises President Obama made on the campaign trail, and we intend to hold him to them.

The battles for the civil rights of women, African Americans and other minority groups were won long before we were born, but the fight for equality is not over. We have an obligation, as did our parents and grandparents before us, to ensure that the American dream of “liberty and justice for all” is finally fulfilled. By speaking out against LGBTQ inequality, discrimination and harassment in our laws and our schools, our generation can achieve what none have before: full civil equality under the law for all individuals, regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Join us at the National Equality March on Sunday and lend your voice to the cry for equality.

Julia Maddera is a freshman in the College, a member of GU Pride, and a contributor to Hoya News and The Guide.

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